We are all hoping that this will be known as THE summer of fire, not the first in an era of really bad summer fires.
Fortunately, we have been far from the fires, apart from a couple of small spots, but the impact of smoke and dust pollution has been horrific enough. It is hard to imagine how dreadful it is to be in the midst of such frightening devastation. Just now, as I write, I heard from a friend who has been through evacuation, trees exploding not far from her house, ash and embers everywhere … such trauma, such resilience in those affected!
Our trees are still green, the olives are growing, the 50mls of rain we have had so far this year have certainly helped freshen the air and the earth, so we are very thankful. By contrast, some large Eucalpyts in our forest have died or fallen over in high winds.
We think that our rain-fed olive trees are coping well with the heat (high 30’s mean a heatwave in Orange), the strong winds and the dry. It’s difficult at this stage to tell how big the crop will be; certainly we will need a lot more rain between now and harvest for the olives to mature well, and the trees to remain healthy.
Summers in the grove often mean trimming the skirts of trees a little, ensuring any unwanted shoots are removed, and picking up any stray pruned branches that were too big for our mulcher. We may do a bit more light pruning in places this year to ensure trees can use their resources to grow the olives.
Because there has been so little growth between rows in the last 18 months, meaning less mulch from mowing, there is more bare earth between trees than normal, as the photograph shows. The long drought is having a huge impact here as everywhere – but at least we have the dark green vibrancy of the grove to gladden the heart, rather than only the bleached stubble or bare earth of much farmland right now.
There is still so much to enjoy in the summer, and friends and family to share it with.